Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Description

“Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Another band getting noticed is The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.” – the author’s website. Interestingly, the phrasing here and on the back of my copy of the book are ever so slightly different.

Recommendation

I read this book because it was recommended to me by a coworker. I don’t know anything about Fleetwood Mac, but in looking up Daisy Jones & The Six I saw somewhere that this book is loosely based on them. So if you’re into that, it might appeal to you. I enjoyed the unconventional structure; this book is written like a transcript of a rock documentary, with each character speaking in the first person and talking about each other and so on. The character work is generally strong, and there are some great, satisfying moments for the women characters in the primary and secondary stories. It’s a quick and fun read, but I don’t see myself keeping this book long-term or reading it again.  

Cover of Daisy Jones & The Six

Discussion

My favorite thing about this book was Karen’s story. It is so great to see a representation of a cool, badass woman who knows what she wants for herself, knows that that doesn’t include children, and who doesn’t get bullied into a life she doesn’t want despite great societal and interpersonal pressure. It’s so rare to see a character like that; it seems to me that the archetype usually goes in the direction of the woman saying she doesn’t want children, but then she gets pregnant and realizes she was “wrong” or “just scared” and that what she really wants is motherhood. Reid plays with that trope here, even having Graham say something along the lines of he thought Karen just needed time to realize that she wanted a family with him. I loved the scene with Karen in the clinic with Camila waiting to get the abortion. Karen asks Camila if she’s making a mistake but Camila says Karen knows the answer to that question, and then Karen says “I know I’m not making a mistake. […] I think I’m pretending to be conflicted so that everybody feels better.” It just feels so good to see that perspective and degree of self-knowledge coexisting in the same character, and it was similarly great to see the non-judgmental support that Camila, who has three of her own children and very much loves being a mother, gives to her friend. The character writing in this book for the women characters especially is stellar.

I thought the author did well with creating so many distinct first-person voices. They’re not as distinct as, say, the characters’ voices in The Poisonwood Bible, and unlike that book I can’t flip to any random passage in Daisy Jones & The Six and know which character’s part I’m reading without looking at the name unless a plot point gives it away. I think the format Reid chose, the fake oral history, did make it harder for me to feel close to the characters since there was no interiority. It was kind of like Several People are Typing in that way–you can only get to know the characters through what they’re saying to someone else rather than their pure, direct experience of the world.

I didn’t really know what to make of the ending of the book, whether the implication was that Camila wanted Billy to get with Daisy after she (Camila) had been gone for a while. That interpretation would make some sense, I think, given that Camila wanting Billy and Daisy to stay away from each other was because it put her family and life in danger and that would no longer be the case once the kids had grown up and Camila had died. But it was still too vague to tell if that was what the author intended. 

There was a “discussion questions for your book club”-type thing in the back of my edition that included the question “How did you react to learning the “author’s” [Billy’s daughter Julia wrote the book in the universe of the fiction] reason for writing this book?” That question has me feeling like I’m missing something because I didn’t notice a specific reason being divulged. I thought it was because she was interested in her parents’ history and wanted to know more. If you read this book and know what ‘reason’ that question is referring to, please let me know in the comments.

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